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Spaghetti alla Napoletana

A typical sugo - red sauce of southern Italy

Spaghetti alla Napoletana is a fairly typical dish of southern Italy. The sauce can have some meat in it, or be completely vegan. Some families will cook larger, bite-sized chunks of meat in the sugo, and will then have these as their secondo piatto with a salad or contorni (veg). Any pasta that holds sauce will do nicely. The chillies give it a kick reminiscent of arrabbiata.

INGREDIENTS

celery

garlic

Italian sausage - the decent stuff from a deli, NOT supermarket ones! I'm using prosciutto; it's what I had in the fridge. Anything with a good flavour and some fat will work. Vegans - this isn't vital

meat - optional

tinned tomatoes

red wine

tomato purée

oregano

dried chillies

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METHOD

  • Finely chop the celery and garlic for your sofritto

  • fry until soft

  • Add the sausage or prosciutto or pancetta during this

  • When the sofritto is soft, add the meat - if you're using any

  • Give it a good stir

  • When the meat is browned, add the chopped tomatoes

  • Add about a glass of red wine - I pour it into the tomato tin to clean out whatever is still in there

  • Stir it all through and add some salt and pepper. This dish needs no sugar

  • Let it cook for about 10 minutes, then add almost a tube of tomato purée

  • Stir that through then add quite a lot - I used around 1 litre - of hot water. In general, unless the recipe calls for it, don't add cold water to dishes you're cooking; it pulls everything down i temperature and disrupts the process

  • Add the chillies and the oregano - I generally dust it to cover the surface of the pan - sparsely, not a blanket!

  • Stir through, bring to the boil, then simmer for at least an hour. The longer the better - I like to do about 3 hours

  • Before you drain your pasta, add a ladle or so to the sugo - which by now is a thick, rich loveliness

  • Drain the pasta and put it into the sauce, or - if the pasta pot is more convenient, put it back in the pot and add the sugo to the pasta. With some dishes it's better/more practical to add pasta to sauce, but don't fret about TV chefs saying how vital it always is; it isn't.

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